October 22, 2021

Addressing Domestic Violence in the Refugee/Immigrant Community

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have been or will be victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. In San Diego, License to Freedom offers many services for survivors and abusers of domestic abuse and violence, including crisis intervention and free legal services through a partnership with San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program.

License to Freedom is uniquely positioned to support asylees, refugees and immigrant families from the Middle East who are experiencing domestic violence. Because of the organization’s linguistic and cultural sensitivities, they often are supporting families with much more. In addition to domestic violence advocacy and counseling, they offer parenting classes; rental assistance programs and advocates; food and shelter advocacy; and serve as liaison between the refugee community and other community agencies that serve critical roles.

License to Freedom approaches its work within a non-binary, shared power framework and through a feminist lens. Given the cultural setting in which they work, License to Freedom’s family therapists work directly with family systems, and therefore provide services to both survivors and abusers while taking into account safety and accountability at all times. Specifically, they offer the 52-week San Diego county-approved Domestic Violence Intervention Program for their Middle Eastern refugee and immigrant families.

This unique positioning recently aided the staff in contributing to a book that was published in March 2021, titled Bilingualism, Culture, and Social Justice in Family Therapy.

Pertinent to the challenges in Afghanistan, the Refugee Domestic Violence “DV” Task Force led by the License to Freedom advocacy team is organized to support and welcome the incoming Afghan refugees to San Diego. The advocates have been working daily throughout the pandemic to stay connected with the community and support people with needed restraining orders, court proceedings, and technology, such as laptops.

License to Freedom has a mental health team of about 12 therapists, all of whom speak various languages ranging from Arabic, Chaldean, Farsi, French, Urdu, and others. They provide trainings around the county, including the 40-hour domestic violence trainings for community partners. They recently gave a presentation on Male Survivors of Violence for the San Diego Domestic Violence Council.

License to Freedom is a compassionate and responsive organization that tirelessly works to support our refugees and immigrants.


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